A COVID-19 test is free if it is part of the public health response. This includes if you:
are a Household Contact
are a critical worker and need a test to go to work
are part of the healthcare and emergency service workforce
require a test to attend court
do a job where mandatory testing applies
have been told to get one by a health professional.
When you should get a test
If you are unwell
If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms you should get a test as soon as you start to feel unwell. Doing a test and reporting the result in My Covid Record means you can get the help you need as early as possible.
If you are unsure, talk to your local healthcare provider or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
If you live with a person who has COVID-19 or have spent at least 8 hours with them in the same residence, you need to get a test on their Day 3 and Day 7 of self-isolation. You do not need to get a test if you had COVID-19 in the last 3 months or completed your isolation as a household contact in the last 10 days.
People at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 can get a free test from their doctor or community health provider. They will decide which type of test is best for you.
If you want to get a test for another reason — for example, because you are visiting friends or whānau — you can buy RATs at retail outlets.
If you have had COVID-19 before
28 days or fewer since a previous infection
If you get COVID-19 symptoms again and it has been 28 days or fewer since a previous infection (either from when you tested positive or you first had symptoms) and:
you are at low risk of serious illness, you do not need to take another test. Stay home and recover, until 24 hours after you no longer have symptoms.
you have an underlying health condition or have COVID-19-like symptoms that are getting worse, you should seek advice from a health practitioner or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
29 days or more since previous infection
If you have COVID-19 symptoms again and it has been 29 days or more since a previous infection you should take a RAT. If it is positive, you must self-isolate and follow the same advice as for your first infection.
Types of tests
There are 2 types of COVID-19 tests available to the general public in New Zealand.
Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are the main testing method being used now for people with COVID-19 symptoms or who are a Household Contact. Results take about 20 minutes. RATs detect all COVID-19 variants.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are still being used in some situations. Results take between 2 and 5 days. A health professional can advise you on the right test to take in your situation. PCR tests detect all COVID-19 variants.